Scientists from Mexico and California have discovered a new parasitoid wasp species in Jalisco, Mexico.
The new species is an egg parasitoid of the fivespotted gamagrass leafhopper (Dalbulus quinquenotatus), an important insect, economically speaking, that transmits plant diseases such as corn stunt spiroplasma, maize bushy stunt phytoplasma, maize rayado fino vrus, and maize bushy stunt phytoplasma.
The new species is called Anagrus naulti, and it is described in a new article called in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
The scientists collected leafhoppers from the field and allowed them to lay eggs on their host plants in lab cages. Then they took the eggs back into the field, where parasitoids could access them. Parasitoid wasps inject their eggs into planthopper eggs. When the wasp eggs hatch, the larvae eat the egg contents and emerge as adults, destroying the planthopper eggs.
Parasitoid wasps such as these are tiny, so it’s impossible to identify the adult species while they’re laying eggs. So the researchers brought the leafhopper eggs back into the lab to see what kind of wasps would emerge. Some of them were species in the genera Paracentrobia and Pseudoligosita, in addition to A. naulti.
The new species is named in honor of Lowell R. “Skip” Nault, professor emeritus at Ohio State University, who described the fivespotted gamagrass leafhopper and studied the evolution and biology of Dalbulus species. The researchers hope to learn more about it and the other leafhopper egg parasitoids they found to see if they can one day be used as biological control agents.
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